- Wendy Weston is the owner of Perfect Picnic, a luxury picnic company based in New York City.
- In order to juggle work and being a single mom, Weston commutes biweekly for four hours between Cape Cod and New York City, to spend time with her daughter and stay working full-time.
- Weston dove back into the field in 2020, setting up picnics outdoors herself, to help her team and business survive.
- She shared with Business Insider daily habits and hacks that keep her company thriving better than ever during the pandemic, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Ever since Wendy Weston launched her luxury picnic company, Perfect Picnic, in 2011, she's had one major goal: "I want to own the picnic as a brand, like Kleenex owns bathroom tissue," she told Business Insider. "Nobody owns the picnic."
She started Perfect Picnic as an online-only service that took orders for premade baskets, elevated snack foods (like tiny baguette sandwiches she calls "Baguettinis"), catering, and her biggest draw of all, her "picnic experiences."
The experiences range in price from $375 for the Gold Picnic — which includes a charcuterie board and setup waiting at a park in New York City — to $8,300 for a Hamptons helicopter ride to a picnic on a beach. She also offers more specifically tailored picnics, like the Brunch Picnic for $385, the Proposal Picnic for $425, and The Citarella Seafood Experience for $725.
Each "experience" is set up ahead of time, complete with blankets, parasols, flowers, plates and glassware.
But what Weston wasn't expecting was for her business to not only survive the pandemic in New York City, but to thrive in it.
"My gut just kept telling me if we closed, we're done," said Weston. So she kept her business up and running. "One of the reasons why I was able to stay open was because of the commitment of my team," she added.
While the coronavirus was at it's worst in the city in March, April, and May, Perfect Picnic was able to survive because she pivoted her focus to delivering food to health care workers and people in need.
"We delivered over 11,000 meals," she said.
Then the summer months came, quarantine restrictions lifted, and she saw a spike in demand for her picnic experiences. The trend likely picked up steam since experts agree that eating outdoors is one of the safest activities to avoid spreading the virus.
"We were fortunate. We always had a pretty good, strong New York base," said Weston. "But this season, people are going a little bit higher end because I think people are really looking to do something special."
Now, Weston has already exceeded her total and net profits from the same year-to-date period last year, according to her financials that were reviewed by Business Insider. And she expects to end the year at least 5% up from 2019.
"I think in this time, people really, really miss their favorite New York City restaurant and the whole dining experience," said Weston. "So we are able to elevate that for them and really make it special."
As Weston rides out the pandemic, splitting time between her Lower East Side apartment and her cottage house in Cape Cod with her 12-year-old daughter Ruby, the single mom broke down for Business Insider how she keeps her business afloat and doing better than ever.
6 a.m. to 7 a.m.
After sleeping for six hours, Wendy Weston starts her day at 6 a.m. and wakes up her 12-year-old daughter, Ruby, at her cottage house in Cape Cod. The pair get ready for their days and eat breakfast.
Weston likes to keep her meals routine. "When I find one thing I like to eat, I eat it every day," she told Business Insider. Right now her favorite breakfast meal is tomatoes and avocado cut up with a balsamic glaze, salt, and pepper. "There's really nothing better than a balsamic glaze," she added.
7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Weston drops her daughter off at her sister's house in Cape Cod and says, "Goodbye."
When the pandemic started, Weston took her daughter, Ruby, north to get her out of the city. Now, she's enrolled at the Cape Cod Academy and lives with Weston's sister. Weston visits on the weekends and at least once during the week.
"I'm originally from Cape Cod, and we have a little escape shack there," said Weston. "So on April 6th, I took my daughter to the cape and she's been there ever since. So I drive back and forth twice a week."
7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
After dropping her daughter off, Weston hits the road for a four-hour commute to New York City and fields phone calls with clients.
Weston commutes from Cape Cod to her brick-and-mortar storefront on the Upper West Side.
After scarfing down a banana, she starts by solidifying bookings with potential new clients around 8 a.m.
First up was a 40th birthday party, then a corporate event for a tech company, and then she clinched the deal on a partnership with an adventure company.
At 10 a.m., she also made arrangements to prepare gift baskets for a company sending "thank yous" to employees.
It's important for Weston to keep working throughout her commute. "I don't have a lot of free time," said Weston. "And since I spend so much time on the highway driving, it's a quiet time for me to focus."
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
At 11:30 a.m., Weston finally arrives at her Perfect Picnic store on 405 Central Park West.
As soon as Weston walks through the doors, she starts selling her grab-and-go picnic baskets and foods to customers walking in. "Baskets are selling like crazy because picnics are a big Instagram thing!" She said.
Then she calls a quick meeting with her staff of 10 employees to go over the orders for the day. This day, they had to reschedule a picnic at Central Park on the fly due to rainy weather. She also heads to her office for an hour of payroll and submitting orders.
3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In the afternoon, Weston drives to Liberty State Park in New Jersey to set up a picnic by herself.
In years past, Weston didn't typically set up picnics herself, but she decided to get back into it during the pandemic in order to cut costs and help her employees.
"I was back in the field the entire season, which was great," said Weston. "One, financially, I'm willing to do anything it takes, I mean, that's for sure. And I have that little bit of being like an athlete. I'm literally willing to do anything to help."
She's also willing to go that extra mile for a loyal client.
"I actually typically do not go that far away," she said. "But there is a company that it's their third year they've done an event with us. So when she asked me, I was like, 'Sure, happy to do it.'"
Weston forgot her wagon, so she lugged the food and setup for the American events package —which includes 25 people — herself.
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Weston spent about an hour breaking down the picnic and cleaning up.
Even after a long day of work, Weston doesn't forget to appreciate the small things. On her hour-long drive back home, she spent a moment taking in the beauty of her surroundings and the Statue of Liberty.
"All of a sudden, I was like driving, and it was like right there. I didn't know I was that close," she said. "It was crazy and it just felt like a very New York moment. You have to appreciate that."
8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Weston finally gets home to her Lower East Side apartment to unwind and spend some virtual video time with her daughter.
She starts by FaceTiming with her daughter to catch up on their days and help out with homework.
"She doesn't always need my help, but sometimes, she just loves to write, so she'll just want me to hear what she wrote," said Weston.
After accidentally skipping lunch, Weston also orders some sushi for dinner and works on her picnic schedule for the weekend.
11 p.m. to midnight
She finishes off her evening with some TV.
"I watched an episode of The Voice and rewatched Justin Bieber on Saturday Night Live … so good!" She said.
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